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IBC2015 Q&A: Evertz’s Mo Goyal on ASPEN protocol, NBA Replay Center, and the Move to IP

September 18th, 2015 By Jason Dachman

Evertz hit IBC last week to highlight the ASPEN protocol for IP facilities that was unveiled at NAB 2015 and has seen increased adoption since. ASPEN was developed to further Evertz’s efforts to deploy Software-Defined Video Networking (SDVN) solutions and has been submitted to SMPTE for publication as a Registered Disclosure Document (RDD 37). Evertz took the opportunity in Amsterdam to highlight its increasing list of ASPEN user and vendor adopters, including Abekas, ChyronHego, Discovery Communications, Game Creek Video, Hitachi Kokusai Electric, NEP Group, PacketStorm, Ross Video, Sony, Tektronix, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and Vizrt.

Evertz Mo Goyal

Mo Goyal, director, product marketing, Evertz

Other top news at the show included Evertz’s role in the NBA Replay Center, which was a IBC2015 Innovation Award finalist; its role in the launch of AMC Networks’ 10GbE playout facility using Evertz SDVN solutions (the first of its kind, according to Evertz); the release of the EQX10 10RU router (up to 180×180 I/O plus X-LINK in a single frame); and support for HEVC encode on its next-generation ingest platform (3080ITXE) and universal encoding platform (3080UEP) through a firmware upgrade.

SVG sat down with Evertz Director of Product Marketing Mo Goyal during the show to discuss the progress of the ASPEN protocol, how he sees the success of the NBA Replay Center impacting future projects, and the industry’s seemingly inevitable migration to IP-based workflows and facilities.

The NBA Replay Center, which was built around Evertz’s DreamCatcher IP-based replay technology, was a finalist for an IBC2015 Innovation Award in the category of Content Creation. Do you foresee future replay-center projects on the horizon?
The NBA leveraged Evertz’s IP-based replay technology for the innovative replay center, developing a dynamic system that meets the needs of the game by improving the performance of NBA referees and reducing the average time of reviews to enhance the fan experience.

We have seen a few international entities looking to do that. They’ve seen what we did with the MLB [replay center] and the progression to the NBA, and they realize that they need to have similar systems, because, as the events are going on, social media has become a factor and the questioning of officials has become a lot more prevalent.

I know we were participating in a trial with the [National Rugby League] in Australia. We modeled the system based on the NBA. There are challenges [with] a rugby game versus a basketball game, but the fundamentals are still there. They realize as a league that they need to have a centralized replay center in order to manage it. They are leading up to a proof-of-concept trial; they had a number of events, [such as] championship games, in which there were some controversial moments. So they began considering this. I think it’s a model that definitely does apply to a lot of the leagues. That model can be scaled down to handle different-size events but, fundamentally, is appealing to any league.

Over the past few months, we have seen multiple new OB trucks built around IP-based routers, including NEP’s SSCBS and Game Creek Video’s Encore units. Do you see this trend continuing, and what role can Evertz play in advancing this philosophy?
We have had truck vendors come by at the show looking at [launching IP routers in OB trucks]. The big thing for them is that it’s about cost and it’s about scale. In Game Creek’s case and for some of the larger trucks, [the idea of an IP router] was a quite easy sell because, for the US Open [tennis tournament], you are looking at a very massive [router]. To do the US Open with baseband, they would basically need two 1152 routers and then have some sort of combination. That isn’t viable. And, as Pat Sullivan said, they are only going to grow. Both NEP and Game Creek were designed for a large event.

But now we are also seeing the next tier of mobile vendors looking at it. They know IP switching is coming down from the production switchers, and everyone is talking about needing IP 4K cameras. They see that the industry is moving to IP, but they’re concerned about whether the price points make sense.

We are reacting to that. We introduced the EQX26 for the mobile-production environment. We are now reevaluating what the next size will be to bring down the price points and make them a lot more comfortable for those vendors. In [deciding whether] to go IP, they want to make sure that they are [accounting for] the SDI portion [of the production]. We can shrink that because you’ll be bringing SDI in today only for the cameras and to the switcher. But the multiviewer [and] DreamCatcher have IP interfaces, so you can build that into [the truck]. I think we are seeing [OB-truck providers] saying it actually makes more sense in terms of the financial case. If they were to buy a core baseband router but can buy an IP core and still have the capabilities today at very similar price points but have potential of doing other things, it’s a no-brainer.

When do you expect Evertz to launch IP routers sized and priced specifically for this next tier of the truck market?
That’s a development thing. Right now, we’re seeing the need for the next size. We started off targeting facilities with 2000×2000 [SDI routers], and there’s a handful of facilities that are going to do that. The next level’s 1000×1000. So what’s the next level [after that]? It’s about 500×500 SDI. I think, once [users] get to that point, [they] basically are modeling to take the 500×500, but [they’re] also likely to pull in the 300×300 because they’ll see the scalability that they will be able to get by going to that platform.

How has the industry responded to the ASPEN protocol you released at NAB 2015? What role do you see its playing as the industry migrates to IP-based facilities and workflows?
This is one of the big things we are talking about at IBC, and part of the reason for that is, there was a great deal of misconception and questions whether ASPEN was a proprietary format. The answer is no. We’ve publicly talked to the end users, and they understood that this makes sense for them. It’s a very quick adaptation; it meets their needs to go over to IP. So we published an RD-37, and it’s now public domain. We are trying to promote it as much as possible within the community and show use cases.

Now it’s our job to start promoting ASPEN. We are publishing white papers to get that information out there and doing more interoperable [demonstrations] to show the benefits and the fact that it is open. I think the industry is obviously embracing it. With the list [of users] that we have and the reaction we’ve gotten from the other vendors, this makes sense and is easy. Because of that, I believe it will spread through the industry a little bit more effectively, not just through us but through other partners and end users. That’s the other key element: you have the end users saying this works. I think that’s the one way of getting the industry on board and clearing a lot of the noise. I think that is a big statement: that there is a strong supporting community behind it.